Even the National Museum of the American Indian is not immune to discrimination towards Native Americans. Museum staff told several women to remove their jackets that had flags reading “Water is Life” and “Mni Wiconi.”
“Water is Life” and “Mni Wiconi” became battle cries for water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. The slogan spread worldwide due to the multitude of supporters that supported the rights of indigenous people over the greed of corporations.
The stand against Dakota Access also became the largest gathering of indigenous tribes that the world has ever seen. Tribes poured into the area to stand in unity against the American government’s disregard for Native American treaties by allowing an oil company to desecrate sacred land reported The Daily Haze.
What has happened with this pipeline will go down in history as a major point of oppression and abuse toward indigenous people.
Native Americans from across the nation went to DC to participate in the Native Nations Rise March led by the Standing Rock Sioux. It began west of Union Station, went through downtown, and past Trump Hotel.
Once in front of Trump Hotel, a tipi was erected while the people chanted, “Donald Trump has got to go!” and “Shame!” Thousands attended to march against Trump’s executive order in January to move forward with both the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL.
While in town, some of the protesters naturally wanted to check out the National Museum of the American Indian.
Pennie Opal Plant posted a Facebook video and two photos taken just after Jolie Varela had been asked to remove her jacket that had a Water is Life flag on the back. The flag reads, “Mni Wiconi,” and “Water is Life.” The caption with the post read as follows.
Outrageous! These women were told that they could not wear their water protector flags pinned to their clothes at the National Museum of the American Indian in DC. We sang the Women’s Warrior Song with fists up and voices ringing out. They put their water protector flags back on and were fine after that. The Treaty exhibit is very informative…highly recommend it.
Varela was hurt and in shock that the museum would ask a Native American to remove her jacket for bearing such a symbolic icon to so many Native Americans. The women asked to remove their jackets decided to sing the “Women’s Warrior Song,” before putting their jackets back on and walking through the museum.
Being told to remove clothing because it has a flag representative to your culture’s struggle while you are at a Museum that memorializes your culture’s struggle is a little insane. It is a reminder of the constant struggle of Indigenous Americans.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)